Animal Track Identification

Identifying Animal Footprints and Paw Prints

animal-tracks-identification

Animal tracks and footprints can tell you what animals are roaming around your backyard or eating your garden vegetables. See our animal track pictures to learn how to identify animal tracks and track animals!

You don’t have to be in the jungle or deep forest to be an animal tracker. Tracks are often as close as your backyard or garden.

How to Track Animals and Identify Animal Tracks

Tracking is something that you learn by doing. Get out there and look! Here are a few tips:

  • Animal tracks are easiest to find in mud, soft garden soil, sand, and snow.
  • Study the ground closely. Get down on your hands and knees. Note the size of the track and whether it shows claw marks. You may wish to make a sketch.
  • Track early in the morning or late in the day when shadows make prints easier to see.
  • Watch for animal droppings called scat. The scat will also help you track the animal. If it’s dry all the way through, the tracks may have been left a while ago. Scat can also tell you if you’re tracking a vegetarian or a meat eater.
  • If you lose the trail, search in a circle around the track until you pick up the trail again.
  • The most important tip of all: don’t get lost!

animal tracks

Do you have animal tracks in your garden? See how to control these common critters: deermicemolesrabbitsraccoonsskunkssquirrelsvoles, and woodchucks or groundhogs

Have you seen any animal tracks in your backyard lately? Tell us about it below!

Reader Comments

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I live in Kentucky, and found

I live in Kentucky, and found huge prints in my barn, two days prior our neighbor witnessed a mountain lion trying to take down a cow. I thought there weren't mountain lions in KY?

Roundish, 9 pads

We woke up to odd paw prints in the snow this morning. There seem to be nine little pads--a row of 4, another row of 4, then an only slightly larger single pad. Total maybe 2 inches or so. Any ideas?

animal prints

I found an imprint in the ice of a lake, 8 pad indentations, with the largest on the left which was oval, the rest almost round. Do you know what it could be?

parallal prints

Thank-you for your assistance.!

parrellel tracks

thank-you, does being at a high elevation change your opinion? thereabouts of zero degrees F. there are mink in the area, at the river, but, the river is across a bridge, across a highway, and about a 1/2 a mile away. I've seen the gait of those beautiful creatures, but, but only when they are walking and then they tend to drag their tails. I wish I had a picture, so that you or others that know what you are talking about could help more. I have never seen anything like it and it really peaks my attention. the tracks would have been perfectly lined up with the back feet into the front holes, how often does that happen? sorry, no detail of foot print, nails or pads, just seemingly round. thank-you again, for your knowledge, couldn't find anything like it, will keep my eye out for more. At least now I can sleep, try to sleep, at night now.

mink

Hello again! A high elevation might narrow down the possibilities a bit, but it will also depend on the state/province where you live. For more information, if you are in the U.S., you might check out the Web site of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for your area. They sometimes have pages about the wildlife in your location. Then you might be able to narrow it down a bit further. Also check out field guides on animal tracks. The one I have says that in deep snow, meadow voles and shrews tend to do a direct register lope (the author calls it a 2x2, where the back feet exactly fall into the spot where the front feet have been). The weasels can also use a 2x2 lope in deep snow; some species, such as the lesser weasel or ermine (aka short-tailed weasel) have more fur on their paws than others, which may obscure the details of the print a bit.

print of an animal

found this print in snow, no picture,. (side-by-side, constant distance of about 10", guessing 4 legged: even though only 2 side-by-side,(: : : :). No, No sign of 2nd or hind legs in in any of the small tracks (print is seemingly circular and maybe the size of a silver dollar). Guessing chest width to be around 4". absolutely no sign of tale or anything dragging between tracks. Made in snow, no camera at time, started to be windy, after dark, 8 " deep snow, slight depression, no belly rub, must be very light weighted.

snow track

Side-by-side tracks, including in deep snow, where the back paws land on the same spot as the front paw (direct register) can be made by a loping or bounding gait of certain rodents (such as rats, shrews, voles) or weasels, as I understand it. Or a bipedal hop, such as by a kangaroo rat (if you live an an area where they live). Hope this helps!

Northwest Florida

Woke up to the "super blue blood moon" morning.
Cruising along the muddy clay road (recent rains) and tracks going from one side of road up the road and back before going into the bushes.
I thought how interesting and took my phone and snapped some pictures.
At first I thought it was a feline of sorts due to the inline "catwalk" look.
Started looking online and found this page about prints.
I sent an email with pictures to the email listed below in a reply to "Sue" by almanac team.
Looking forward to hearing back.

FOOT PRINTS

I HAVE WHAT APPEARS TO BE SOME KIND OF ANIMAL TRACKS IN MY YARD. THEY ARE ROUND, THATS IT. SUNK IN THE GROUND IN SPOTS WHERE IT IS SOFT.

Track in our development

Please help us figure this track out! They are all over our development in Monticello Minnesota.

Please help identify

Looked out my son's bedroom this afternoon and saw single set of tracks widespread and large. Looks like two toes and a pad spread a couple of feet apart. How can i attach photos?

Puzzled

Looking out my window and the prints I’ve never seen before has me very puzzled. They almost resemble a large dogs print but only two toes. They’re spread a pretty distance as well! I’ve been in Kenosha, WI all my life and have never seen this.. thanks for the help

Puzzeled

I'm seeing the same thing n they r huge! Look like alien feet

More new different tracks

From Southbury CT On Jan 01 2018 Discovered prints, larger than size of closed fist, single track, apprx. 2-3 feet apart, no apparent claws/toes, no feces trail left behind in yard. Thanks for any leads.

Prints in Snow

Any updates to the 12/14/17 prints I’m the snow? Will editors post the pics for others to look at?

large perfect circle prints in the snow

I looked out my door this morning and in the snow were a path of large perfect circles, almost the size of a saucer. No paw prints, just perfect circles. I never saw anything like this in all my years. The center of the circles were bare of snow, maybe whatever left the circles was heavy and the center melted the snow. The circles in the snow were all the same distance apart but not far apart at all. They looked like smoke rings. I live in New Jersey near a river

Paw prints in snow

Found large paw prints in snow yesterday on back deck in south jersey, tried to research on line but can't seem to find a match. Have 2 clear pictures, is there a way to send them in for possible ID, thanks

paw print ID

Hi, Sue. We received your photos via AlmanacEditors@Yankeepub.com and will see if we can help you to identify the animal who made them. Thank you!

Devil Dogs

I've seen three strange creatures run past me in the night, hyena-like and tail-less, this was in eastern PA in the mid 90's. Not sure what their prints would be like, but they are out there!

western PA

western PA sorry, 30 minutes from Pittsburgh

noisy critters under house in insulation

I crawled under the house and found nothing but many tracks bigger than a nickel smaller than a quarter. They had tear shaped middle and six straight lines radiating but not attached to the tear. They are crawling along under the rooms in my modular home driving me nuts. I sprinkled diatomaceous earth on possible entries after stuffing easy to move crunched news paper. Any ideas what it/they may be and how I can rid myself.

animal tracks

Unfortunately, even with these details, it is hard to know what animal has taken up residence under you home. I don’t know of any that have 6 toes, but it could be that the track is such that the back foot has landed in the same place as the front foot, as happens sometimes with certain animals and gaits. Animals about that size could be in the mink/weasel family, certain skunks, squirrel/gopher and other larger rodents. The options also depend on where you live. Do any claws show in the tracks? If they are causing damage to your home, you might want to call in an animal pest expert to help you identify it and discuss options. Control depends somewhat on the type of animal, and whether you can block any access areas once you have drawn the animals away from your home. You might check our animal pest pages, such as the following, for a few tips on repelling them:

https://www.almanac.com/pest/squirrels
https://www.almanac.com/pest/skunks

Hope this helps!

Footprints under your house

I'm thinking it might be opossums, but have no idea why there's a sixth toe. I know there's a large possum that has started visiting my yard. It snowed a little last night and there are now footprints near my back door where I sometimes put food for a stray cat (yeah, the possum is probably eating more than the cat now). The footprints look just like possum tracks, but with an extra (6th) toe. This web page is not allowing me to include a web URL, so just Google opossum tracks.

Possible cougar tracks

Hi, I found a single track and I believe it to be a cougar track, but I would like some confirmation. I live in central Kentucky, also I took a picture, so here's the dropbox link. https(colon)//www(dot)dropbox(dot)com/s/kux5mrm8kdius49/WP_20170829_001(dot)jpg?dl=0

Tracks

How is it that you can view the pics of the tracks?

Possible Fox in my House?

ok so earlier tonight I found a track of muddy paw prints in my house walking from my back door through my kitchen that then stopped at the top of the stairs to the basement (the stairs are carpet so I couldn't see the tracks anymore) They are much smaller than the paws of my dog but still bigger than any racoon tracks i've ever seen. They are in a straight line and somewhat spaced out by looking at your options and doing some research of my own I think they may be fox prints. I live on the lake in rural ontario i have an empty lot next to my house and I left the door open almost all day. Is it possible that there is still a fox trapped in my house? the prints don't lead back to the door or even out of the basement. did it maybe wipe its feet on the carpet and leave without tracks?

Outfoxed

Hi, Chloe: This is a tough one. A healthy fox is not going to be snooping in a house, generally. This sounds more like a house cat. Are there any around? And yes, it sounds entirely possible that whatever it was got onto the stairs carpet and “wiped” its feet by walking. Keep that door closed and you’ll find out soon enough, if you haven’t already. And check around your basement for any openings. Thanks for asking, and good luck!

Tracks

I have had a pack of wolves through my property that a neighbour helped me to identify. He demonstrated to me the way they travel at times in single file to conceal their numbers. He estimated at least 4 were through the property. I’ve never seen one in person as they are extremely covert when humans are present. I set trail cams up at one point in hopes of catching them but was told that because I had gone back there nonchalantly, they would have smelled my scent and avoided the area in the future.

Tracks

Would have been informative to people in areas with wild hogs to include their prints

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